|Creator:||Grant, Dorothy S. (1905-)|
|Extent:||7.50 linear feet.|
|Repository:||Iowa Women's Archives|
|Summary:||Unitarian Universalist and Head Start teacher, and spokesperson for victims of spousal abuse.|
Access: The papers are open for research.
Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.
Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 220) were donated by Dorothy S. Grant in 1994 and succeeding years.
Preferred Citation: Dorothy S. Grant papers, Iowa Women Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.
|Repository:||Iowa Women's Archives|
|Address:||100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Dorothy Irene Sweet Grant, the daughter of Walter Ward Sweet and Nellie Nelson (Nelia Nilson) Sweet, was born on November 3, 1905 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her abridged autobiography Grant described herself as a studious and shy child with a domineering mother. She was on the honor roll of her grade school and high school and she continued her education at Miss Wood's School for Early Childhood Education. In Osseo, Minnesota, she taught the first and second grades for four years before returning to Minneapolis to teach first grade at Miss Sterrett's private school for one year.
In Minneapolis Dorothy Sweet met a young botany graduate student from the University of Minnesota named Martin Lawrence Grant. They were married on March 26, 1930. Within seventeen months of their marriage the young couple had two of their three children. Dorothy Grant writes that her husband became physically abusive to their son Gordon six weeks after he was born and that abuse was also inflicted on their daughter Barbara Jean shortly after her birth.
Upon completion of Martin Grant's Ph.D. in 1936, the family moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he took a teaching position at the Iowa State Teacher's College (now the University of Northern Iowa). Outwardly the family appeared normal but Martin Grant's pattern of abuse and philandering continued and he began physically battering Grant as well as the children. Domestic violence, verbal and physical, continued throughout the Grants' marriage and influenced the lives of Dorothy Grant and her children.
Grant became active in many civic groups in Cedar Falls, holding office in various organizations such as: American Association of University Women (AAUW) study group, Women's Club, Girl Scouts, Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) and others. In 1937 Grant joined the local Planned Parenthood organization and served as secretary on the board for seven years.
In 1950 the Grants and another couple started a Unitarian Fellowship in Cedar Falls. Grant said, "This organization changed my life considerably..." As a founding member she performed many duties: from attending state and regional conferences to starting a Sunday school in 1952. Grant used her skills as the archivist of the Cedar Falls Unitarian Universalist Society to author five manuals and booklets dealing with the local society and world religions. After forty-five years she resigned as the archivist in the spring of 1995.
Martin Grant's botanical research provided an opportunity for the family to travel and live all over the world. From September 1963 until the spring of 1965 Dorothy and Martin Grant lived in Iran. During all of Martin Grant's field trips Dorothy Grant was his unrecognized secretary and assistant, helping with all aspects of plant collection, preservation and mounting. These trips allowed Grant to indulge her social anthropological interests and study various world religions.
In 1967, after thirty-seven years of marriage, Dorothy Grant divorced her husband and began life on her own. Martin Grant died a year later and Grant's alimony payments stopped. Forced to reenter the work force at the age of sixty-two, she obtained a job at the Head Start program for young children for four years. Grant began as a substitute teacher but eventually rose to the position of Supervisor of Education. Grant later worked as head tester for a University of Northern Iowa (UNI) research program called Home Start that tested the development of two- to five-year-olds. When funding for the program ended Grant continued working part-time at the UNI Museum until she retired in 1975, at age seventy.
Since retirement Grant has kept busy with many activities including learning to use a computer in 1987 at the age of eighty-two. In her lifetime Grant has given over one thousand talks to various groups and continues doing so.
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